David Hockney is most known for his paintings of L.A. swimming pools. There is something luxuriant about these paintings and he does something fascinating with water, making it a bit out of focus and mesmerizing. But swimming pools are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to Hockney's art.
He was dazzled by Los Angeles, and it's when he came to L.A., in the 1960's, that his work came alive. He must have been blindsided by the Technicolor of my hometown, coming from grey and dreary England, and it shows.
He painted bold color with a passion and he began painting in Acrylic, which is the best medium for his bright, flat color.
His paintings are all on a grand scale. He spent some time in Colorado, and painted the open sky vistas with Indian iconography.
,But it was in L.A. that his unique style came into fruition. He painted interiors, exteriors, and portraits, all with a unique L.A. vibe.
He was part of a large and creative British ex-pat community. He was also early to come out and depict Gay life. Two men shower together in one painting, there is a semi-nude in another.
His portraits are like freeze frames. Stolen moments in time, in which a look reveals psychological underpinnings. In this, Hockney reminds me of Alice Neel. As important as the face, is the body language of the subject. This is particularly stunning in his portrait of the famous English couple, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (to read how much these two were revered in the Gay community, read Armistead Maupin's reminiscence in his recent memoir, LOGICAL FAMILY).
Another telling portrait, is of Hockney's parents, in which his mother shows all the stress of a life contained in a face, while the father examines a book , oblivious to his spouse. Here is a closeup of her face.
If one is looking for a wow factor, it is in the 1990's where Hockney simply explodes with color in his love affair with L.A. He does this with interiors, his own backyard, and in the painting that literally knocked my socks off, PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY AND SANTA MONICA (Oil, 1990).
He does return to Yorkshire in the 2000's with some strong paintings. Perhaps he was able to see the environment he came from with new eyes. BRIDLINGTON, YORKSHIRE (Oil, 2006) is an example. It is made up of several blocks of canvas which are connected like giant puzzle pieces.
When I was an art student, we were given a common enough assignment. Find a famous painting and copy it. I copied Hockney's , MT. FUJI AND FLOWERS (Acrylic, 1972). I loved its grace and simplicity. I copied it from a postcard, which meant I missed the delicacy with which he treated the petals, and his special effects with water. What a thrill to see that painting in all its elegance in person.
My fledgling artistic copy is below the Master's.
Thank you Mr. Hockney, for being so inspiring to artists everywhere, and bravo on your 80 year retrospective career!
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is a great artist and this is a great show. There is much more to his art than "The Scream", though contained in all of his art, is raging emotion, with a scream of sadness or despair always implicit. This is an all encompassing show with many paintings that have never before been seen in the U.S. I was enthralled by his ability to express intense feeling in a way, no other artist does.
The sun never sets in Norway in the summer, so Munch had to paint his night paintings in the dead of night. "The Storm" (Oil, 1893) is a standout. The houses seem to have faces, and brood with emotion. The ghostlike figure is backed up by wailing women. A mesmerizing haunted painting.
"Starry Night (Oil, 1922-24) gives Van Gogh a run for his money. A glorious bright starry night, and large shadows in the snow. Again, window light between the trees that seems to speak, and an ominous face in the lower right corner (he often has shadows, faces, silhouettes, in lower corners of his paintings.
There are a series of paintings that evolve around the bridge that figures so prominently in "The Scream". Munch said that Nature seemed to scream up from the water under the bridge. He was someone who was severely depressed and struggled as he said, "to stand up" each day. He did live to 81 which means his struggle did not defeat him. Perhaps, because he painted his grief and despair.
,One seminal event that caused him grief, was the death of his sister, Sophie, from TB, when Munch was 12. Forty years later, he painted his grieving family at her bedside. This painting so captures the horror that death of a loved one, especially premature death, brings. There is a very ghoulish painting, "Inheritance" in which a mother holds her syphilitic baby on her lap.
While almost every painting has a dark view of life, one is filled with passion and sexuality. So let's end with "The Kiss" (Oil, 1897). How powerful this is, even though, or perhaps, because, all facial features are erased.
For a larger view of these paintings, go to my Instagram: pamwings (Pam Malone)
The brilliant Swedish film, "The Square" is about modern art and so much more. It is a bit of a thriller and holds one's attention throughout. Yes, it does satirize the art world. One of the exhibits in the X-Royal Museum are multiple mounds of ashes, all identical. When the museum cleaner inadvertently sweeps up some of the mounds, the museum staff panics, until the curator comes up with the idea of taking the ashes out of the vacuum cleaner bag and simply replacing the mounds the way they were before. No one is the wiser. But the film deals with a more important question regarding modern art and museum exhibitions. If one took an ordinary object, like a purse or a chair, and placed it in a museum, does that make it a work of art? This is explored in many ways. A performance artist portrays a wild animal, but he gets carried away to the point where it is no longer performance, he has become a savage beast. The key art work explored in the movie, is "The Square". An Argentinian artist has created a lit up square in front of the museum, which symbolizes a place one can step into to experience equality, and peace. This is a Utopian vision that is soon shattered, as The Square blurs with the city square and becomes social reality around and outside the museum. The director, Ruben Ostlund, enforces this with visual squares throughout. Even the eerie music lends itself to this concept. Surprisingly, Swedish society is more like our own than I would have thought. There is evidently no safety net for the many beggars and European Union refugees. As a result there is a pronounced inequality, as seen when toughs in a poor neighborhood, throw detritus at the curator's Tesla. He begins the movie wrapped in his own elite world in which "The Square" is clearly an art piece but nothing more. He ends totally transformed. And therein I think the director is showing us that art is not just an object in a museum, but something that has the power to affect us all.
Last night was the opening reception for the 20/20 show at the Academy Square Galleries, 33 Plymouth St., Montclair, NJ. The show will run until December 15, 2017. I have 2 oil paintings in the show, "Hummingbird" and "Tulip". That's my artistically perceptive grandson, Harry, with me in the Hummingbird picture. He knows how much I love hummingbirds!! The show was very impressive. The concept is that all paintings, and other media, are at eye view and are 20" X 20" in honor of Studio Montclair's 20th Anniversary. The curator, Pamela Moore , wanted to create a show that included humor, beauty and innocence. She said my paintings personified "innocence". I am quite happy with this designation, as I look at the world with the eyes of wonder, and hope that is revealed through my paintings.
I painted this painting because of the sad plight of Syrian Refugees. The image of Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus fleeing Herod is a metaphor for the plight of all refugees no matter what religion. This painting has just sold, and it is my wish that those who see it will feel compassion for those who suffer persecution and must flee their homes.